2019 Salt Lake Cost vs. Value: Home Improvements with the Best Return

Home improvement projects are not all equal when it comes to how much money (or equity) you can expect to get back on your investment. People are usually surprised when they realize that it’s almost always less than 100% of what you spend.

That said, certain projects will get you much more than others. I’m here to break down the projects that will give you the best return on your investment. And this data is specific to the Salt Lake City region, thanks to the folks at Remodeling magazine, who share this region-specific data each year.

Key Remodeling Trends for 2019

This year’s cost vs. value report shows just how robust the remodeling industry has been throughout the past year. Remarkably, every single project in the report shows an increase in value over the previous year.

The downside is that the cost for these projects has also increased, thanks to tariffs that have hit commodity markets. This means a slight downturn in the percentage return you’ll see on some projects. On the flip side, overall returns are also up slightly for many of these home improvements.

In general, you’ll also see that exterior improvements tend to be worth more than interior improvements, and that’s held true year over year.

1. Manufactured Stone Veneer

So, what’s the home improvement with the best return on your investment in Salt Lake? It’s actually the same as last year’s top project: adding manufactured stone veneer to the outside of your home.

However, last year the project netted you 103.4% on your investment, and this year, you can expect an astounding 130% back on your project. This one’s a no-brainer! In fact, this is the only project on the list that’s worth more than 100%.

Just take a band of siding from the bottom third of your house’s street-facing façade. You’ll begin at the garage and go around the main entry. Replace that siding with manufactured stone veneer. Include new sills, corners, and an address block with two separate layers of water-resistant barrier underneath the veneer to protect your home.

2. Minor Kitchen Remodel

The second project on the list comes pretty close to a full return on your investment at 97.6%. This is a big jump up from last year (about 20%).

You may be surprised to know that a minor kitchen remodel actually gets you a better return on your money than a major, expensive kitchen overhaul (which is 78.4%). A minor remodel can make a dated kitchen look entirely different, and honestly, a complete remodel might not even be necessary.

A minor remodel should include a few key upgrades. You can leave the existing cabinet boxes, but you should replace the fronts with new, shaker-style wood panels and drawer fronts. Don’t forget the new hardware! Replace the cooktop, oven range, and fridge with energy-efficient models, probably stainless steel. Replace countertops with laminate (there are a lot of really beautiful options these days that mimic real stone). Add a new mid-priced sink and faucet. Then you can repaint the trim and walls, and you’re done!

3. Garage Door Replacement

A perennial favorite on this list is a garage door replacement for your home. This improvement will get you 92.5% of what you spent on it. Not bad at all!

You’ll want to install a new, four-section garage door on brand-new, heavy-duty steel tracks. You can use your existing motorized opener. The door should be high-tensile strength steel and have two coats of factory paint. You should also ensure that it has foam insulation with thermal seals and a lifetime warranty.

4. Siding Replacement

Though we’re leaving the projects that net you over 90% behind, there are plenty of other projects that are good return on your investment. A siding replacement can be an excellent choice. It will make your home look entirely different and will net you 85.0% of what you spend.

Replace all existing siding with new siding. Don’t forget to include factory trim at all openings and corners.

5. Deck Addition (Wood)

Who doesn’t want a brand-new deck? And at an 80.5% return on your investment, this is a smart and fun choice. This doesn’t yield quite as much of a return as it has in years past, but it’s still an excellent choice. (Note that a composite deck is worth slightly less at 76.2%.)

You’ll add a 16X20-foot deck with pressure-treated joists and boards. You should also include some extras, like a built-in bench and a planter made from the same material as the deck. You’ll also want stairs and a complete railing system made out of the same material.

6. Window Replacement (Vinyl)

Interestingly, vinyl window replacements are a better return at 79.7% than wood window replacements at 72.7%. New windows can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your home.

Your new vinyl windows should be insulated, low-e windows, which are energy-efficient with a coating that affects how heat passes in and out of the home. They should have a simulated wood-grain finish on the inside, and you can leave the existing interior trim. The exterior trim should match the rest of the home.

7. Major Kitchen Remodel

You know how we mentioned that minor kitchen remodels were a great investment? Well, if your kitchen really does need a major remodel, they’re a better investment than they’ve been in recent years. A major kitchen remodel will net you 78.4% of what you spend, though this is just for a midrange remodel. A luxury remodel will get you 69.5% of what you spend.

A mid-range remodel includes adding semi-custom wood cabinets and a 3X5-foot island. Laminate countertops are OK—again, there are so many good options to choose from. You should also include a standard faucet with a double-tub stainless-steel sink. Include an energy-efficient range, built-in microwave, and dishwasher. You’ll also want a new garbage disposal and a vented range hood. Don’t forget custom lighting and new vinyl flooring. You should paint walls, trim, and ceiling, and then you’re done!

An upscale major kitchen remodel, by contrast, includes top-of-the-line custom cabinets with sliding shelves. It also includes stone countertops, a ceramic or glass-tile backsplash, built-in refrigerator, commercial cooktop and vent hood, wall oven, and built-in microwave. The undermount sink should have a designer faucet and built-in water filtration. You’ll also need new lighting, including task lighting and undercabinet lights. The new floor should be tile or a wood-like material.

I hope this helps you decide what home improvement projects you’d like to tackle next, whether you’re planning to sell or are staying put. If you have any other questions about the value of home improvement projects on homes here in the Salt Lake area, please give me a call.

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